Moonlight is the Best Movie of 2016

Sujosh Mukherjee, Staff Writer

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2016’s Moonlight, released limited November 18, but wide released February third, so I was not able to see it until then, could be regarded as “the little movie that could”. Director Barry Jenkins has only directed one other film before Moonlight, called Medicine for Melancholy back in 2008. The film received almost no financial or critical recognition, however, Jenkins returned in 2016 with Moonlight, which has received non-stop praise from critics, meanwhile more than tripling its five million dollar budget. 

Back in August, when the first trailer for Moonlight hit, it was not well-recognized by the public; however, since then, the film has been released in many film festivals all around the continent, such as Vancouver international film festival, and Chicago International Film Festival. This granted the film much praise from the attendants of the film festivals, who were mostly critics. Now that Moonlight has received critical success, as well as eight Oscar nominations, many film fans now know of the movie’s existence, and it has finally received a wide release.

After much anticipation, I was finally able to see Moonlight, and I was not disappointed. The film is about a young black man named Chiron, and his journey from childhood to adulthood, as he struggles to find his place in the world.

To start, the acting in the film is absolutely amazing. Mostly all of the movie’s actors such as, Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Travante Rhodes were virtually virtually unknown. All three portrayals of Chiron (child, teen, and adult) were fantastic. As the film went on, you could see the older actors portraying the same mannerisms as the actors before them, making the character feel all the more real. The child actors were fantastic as well, delivering some of the most heart-wrenching scenes of the movie, and at some points even outshining the adult actors.

Another small, yet significant aspect that I loved about the film, was the score. It is stereotypical for movies like this to contain rap songs. However, Moonlight uses various violin pieces throughout the film that surprisingly matched the tone perfectly.

Even just on a technical aspect, Moonlight impresses, with close to perfect execution. Director Barry Jenkins made the choice to use a very low depth of field. This made it so the film focused more on character than anything else. No shot in the entire movie felt out of place. The film may even require repeat viewings to notice every small hint or detail hidden in the backdrop.

Out of everything, the thing that got to me the most in the film was it’s dialogue. The way the characters talk in the film felt so raw and real, it was as if I was watching real people. There is a thirty minute conversation near the end of the film, that made me feel as if I was watching two real people talking in a diner. You may find this to be a negative to the film, but I believe this is what Moonlight does best. It captures real life more perfectly than any other fiction movie I have seen before.

If I had to pinpoint any negatives in the film, I would say that the way the film ended felt a bit abruptly, and the movie isn’t very re-watchable, due to extremely slow, yet deliberate, pacing. But these are just very minor nit picks.

In the end, Moonlight has fantastic acting, a phenomenal score, and enraptures real life more perfectly than any other film. Moonlight has become my favorite movie of 2016, and I give it a 9.5/10